Perceptions of family support and youth crime prevention in a South Sudanese community in regional Australia

Author Identifier

Henry Ndala

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Trudi Cooper

Second Supervisor

Vicki Banham


This thesis presents the perceptions of the South Sudanese young men, their families, and community leaders from Shepparton, in Victoria, Australia, about youth crime. The aim is to improved youth crime prevention through family support. Young men from Sudanese backgrounds in Victoria are over-represented in crime statistics, yet their voices and those of their families are not well-documented in the literature. Ecological systems theory was used to theoretically unify the ‘Pathways to Prevention’ framework for youth crime prevention with the ‘wraparound’ approach to family support. The participants were fifteen young men, fifteen parents and two community leaders from the Shepparton South Sudanese community. Phenomenological interviews were conducted with all participants. This study found participants’ experiences of war in South Sudan, prior to their migration to Australia as refugees, has a significant impact on their lives in Australia. Poor mental health, issues related to integration into Australian society, experiences of racism, media stereotypes related to African Australians, parental cultural values and expectations, and cross-cultural misunderstandings are among some of the challenges young men face. The data presented in this thesis demonstrated that multi-disciplinary family and support services need to collaborate more to support South Sudanese families and young people, and this would have direct benefits for their well-being and crime prevention. Furthermore, the research shows that the younger generation want their parents to engage with them and pass on their stories of fleeing from conflict violence in South Sudan, and challenges of migrating to Australia. In my conclusion, I identify some sensitive issues that a family support worker would need to consider, including different cultural values on masculinity, some of which may increase risk for young men’s involvement in crime, and cultural perspectives on discipline and physical punishment. Some protective factors against youth crime, include strong informal community supports and strong parental commitment to children’s wellbeing and educational achievements.



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